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Electrify America to develop robotic EV charging for self-driving cars

Volkswagen AG-backed Electrify America will test an autonomous electric vehicle charging station for self-driving cars as part of a pilot program in San Francisco.

Electrify America was borne out of VW's federal settlement stemming from the scandal over diesel emissions. It announced Aug. 1 that it will collaborate with electric vehicle fleet charging company Stable Auto on the program, which will allow self-driving electric cars to recharge without human intervention.

The program will use a "robotic solution" attached to a 150-kW DC fast charger, with the first site expected to open in early 2020, according to an Electrify America news release. In theory, self-driving vehicles will park at the station, and a robot will automate the connection between the vehicle and the charger.

"Autonomous vehicles will play an important role in the future of driving, particularly with fleets, and tailored charging options for self-driving EVs will be critical to develop that effort," Wayne Killen, Electrify America's director of infrastructure planning and business development, said in the news release.

Electrify America said it provided two 150-kW DC fast chargers to Stable Auto for development work aimed at demonstrating commercial viability. Stable Auto will pair its robotic technology and advanced scheduling software with Electrify America's chargers.

"Our models have shown dramatic improvements to fleet utilization and operating cost-per-mile when fleet vehicles are paired with automated infrastructure in strategically chosen locations," Rohan Puri, co-founder and CEO of Stable Auto, said.